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The National Archives Civil War
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Why did Britain become a republic?

Case study 1: Death of Charles I - Source 4


Extract from a report of the trial of Charles I, January 1649

(Catalogue ref: SP 16/517)

Then the Clerk reads.

Charles Stuart King of England, you are accused, on the behalf of the people of England, of divers high crimes and treasons, which charge hath been read unto you. The Court now requires you to give your final and positive answer by way of confession or denial of the charge.

Sir, I say again, that so I might give satisfaction to the people of England of the clearness of my proceedings, not by way of answer, not in this way but to satisfy them that I have done nothing against the trust that hath been committed to me, I will do it; but to acknowledge a new Court against their privileges to alter all the fundamental laws of the Kingdom in their behalf, Sir, you must excuse me.

Lord President Bradshaw
This is the third time that you have publicly disowned this Court and put an affront upon it. How far you have preserved the fundamental laws and the freedom of the subject your actions have spoken it, for truly, Sir, men's intentions are used to be shown by their actions; you have written your meaning in bloody characters throughout the whole kingdom. But, Sir, the Court understands your meaning. Clerk record the default, and gentlemen you that brought the prisoner, take him back again.

I have one word to you; if it were only my particular indeed I would not.

Lord President
Sir you have heard the pleasure of the Court, and you are, though you will not understand it, to find that you are before a court of justice.

Well, Sir, I find I am before a power

and went away. These words he spake with a low voice as he was going away.